Politics

McCain Blasts Removal Of Ban On Russian Rocket Engines, Blames Legislators For Enriching Putin

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

GOP Sen. [crscore]John McCain[/crscore], chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, blasted another Republican Wednesday for removing the ban on Russian-engineering rocket engines and enriching Russian president Vladimir Putin and his cronies.

Present in the omnibus budget bill, the provision allows U.S. defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Boeing to still use Russian RD-180 rocket engines, which the two rely on to shoot military satellites into space, Politico reports. Rocket engines manufactured in the U.S. won’t be ready for some time. The Air Force isn’t fast enough and may not have American-designed rocket engines finished before 2019, which is when the ban comes into play.

For McCain, the provision is noxious enough to warrant a vote against the entire $1.15 trillion spending bill, as removing restrictions has the effect of “subsidizing Russian aggression” and contradicting the “will of the Senate.”

“How can our government tell European governments that they need to hold the line on maintaining sanctions on Russia, which is far harder for them to do than us, when we are gutting our own policy in this way,” McCain said on the Senate floor Wednesday night. “How can we tell our French allies, in particular, that they should not sell Vladimir Putin amphibious assault ships, as we have, and then turn around and try to buy rocket engines from Putin’s cronies?”

“The result will enable a monopolistic corporation to send potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to Vladimir Putin and his corrupt cronies and deepen America’s reliance on these thugs for our military’s access to space,” McCain added.

McCain found fault with GOP Sen. [crscore]Richard Shelby[/crscore] of Alabama in particular because a rocket factory in his state would likely benefit from a removal of the ban. McCain also pointed out that Democratic Sen. [crscore]Richard Durbin[/crscore], a key player on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, is from Illinois where Boeing has its headquarters.

Most of the vitriol McCain reserved for Shelby since he never discussed the issue with McCain.

“I can’t speak for him, nor do I give a damn,” McCain told The Associated Press. “Why would I give a damn what he says?”

United Launch Alliance (ULA), the collaborative effort between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, crumbled after the Pentagon issued a ban on the use of RD-180s after 2019 in the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The ban also exists as part of the 2016 NDAA, which McCain helped construct.

If the omnibus moves smoothly through Congress, ULA will regain its stature and gain a point over Space X, Elon Musk’s competing venture. Last month, ULA declined to bid on a space launch, saying that it didn’t have the necessary rocket engines.

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